Jesus' Teaching

To dwell in the kingdom of now, and to love from this
unconditioned space of forgiveness, is the totality of
Jesus' teaching. Churches and sacraments, heaven and
hell, mnemonic stories and end-time prophecies,
the "prosperity gospel" of the right and the "social
gospel" of the left, were all invented later by followers
who insisted on clinging to the past and future.


It is not my ancestors who heal me, nor the old holy stories of my tribe.
It is not the prescriptions of scripture that heal me, nor the priest's
absolution in the temple. I sip the Great Medicine, the pure transparent
nectar of Presence. This very breath is my soothing balm. Now is
the Sabbath. I rest in being just as I Am.

Guru Purnima

"When the bud breaks, it becomes a flower. When the heart breaks, it becomes divine." 
~Sri Sri Ravi Shankar 

I offer this remembrance of Guru Purnima, the full moon of the Guru, not only to beloved Shri Shri, but to all who might not be able to attend the celebration of Guru Purnima in the Guru's presence on July 31. It doesn't matter. You are the presence.

Oh my Guruji, we were in Nova Scotia at a ten-day mid-summer silence course in 1991, ending on full moon. Seventy people attended: a large course then, though tens of thousands gather with you now. On the final night, after Sat Sang, about twenty of us took a moonlight walk with you. The night was hot, humid, yet breezy. Through onyx skies gleamed the full moon. Cool mist draped the forest vales and meadow edges. We strolled to a field and sat in dewy grass singing, "Shri Radhey Radhey Radhey Shyam."

Suddenly, you stood up and began to dance! Silk trailed in the breeze about your whirling form. The moonlight was pearl with flecks of gold. Surely, our souls were Gopis and cowherd boys in the garden of Vrindavan. And you were Krishna, Shyama Sundara, the formless sky of divine Beauty! That's what we were all thinking, but no one spoke. No one broke the ancient spell that glimmered down the centuries into this fleeting night of yearning.

At the core of our joy was the sorrow of your departure. It was our last night together. You would leave for India tomorrow. None of us knew when we would ever see you again. Our hearts were intoxicated by a troubled mixture of sweet and bitter wine, longing and ecstasy, fulfillment tasting of foreshadowed absence.

We gazed, sang and wept with wonder and sadness, while you whirled whimsically across the meadow. Finally, at the edge of the forest, you were dancing in the mist at the borders of form, on the threshold of invisibility. How did you know exactly where to perform this lila, at the precise distance from our eye where you could momentarily appear and dissolve, appear and dissolve, playing on the borderline of time and eternity? You teased us with the mystery of form and the formless. Or was it just a coincidental vibration of innocence, without meaning?

As you danced on that threshold, your whirling Self was bija, then nirbija: the seed of form, then no seed. One moment the embodied Guru, the next a moonlit mist of un-knowing. In and out of transcendence you danced. Your ever vanishing shape stirred my heart with waves and troughs of pang and presence.

All at once, a profound smile erupted from the base of my spine. It widened toward my heart, out of a dark root deeper than sadness, deeper than creation, blossoming through my face, my lips, the well-spring of my eyes. It shone through the hollow crown of my skull, releasing a causeless untethered eternal happiness into the moon-drenched sky. Not in miraculous vision or ecstatic trance, but in a subtle inner shift and sigh, my longing came to an end. My journey was over. My seeking dissolved, as you dissolved, in the formless sweetness that is never diminished by parting, never divided by absence, never depleted by tears.

Whether you come or go no longer matters to me. Behind the fluctuations of light and shadow, You are omnipresent. I don't need to wait for the full moon. The moon is always full.

Jai Guru Dev

No Garden

No garden, no mind.
Grow weeds.
Let them gesture and blossom
as noblemen who bow.
Let there be a meadow like your body
without edges
where a rose pours into its bee,
the bee surrenders to honey,
the honey melts on your tongue,
evaporates into a kiss
that disappears into the sound
of the empty flute,
and God knows where that breath goes!
Let soil dissolve into rain.
Let rain dissolve into sky.
Let sky dissolve into a sunbeam.
Let that greatest of all fires
be snuffed out in the breathless vacuum
at the center of an atom.
Now let empty space pervade the bones
and emptiness awaken.
O mind, be silenced by the vast soul.
May this playful droplet, 
this tiniest of all pearl selves,
return to the ocean of wonder.

Einstein's Desk

Mistakes become flowers when there is no 'should.' I let
weeds blossom. Some gardens are too tidy. Einstein's desk
was a mess. The earth is not so sacred when you cling to it.
Remember, we're just passing through here. Being careful
is letting go. Touch everything with a sweet farewell.
The hug of ownership is what ruins a place. God never
says  'I'm sorry,' just 'I love you.'


'Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.' ~Matthew 6:12

Maybe we should all pay each other reparations for what our ancestors did,
and when we find that everyone owes an infinite amount to everyone else,
we can all agree to forgive the debt and live as one human family in the
present moment.

But this is not about money.

At each moment, with each breath, we are free to assume the burden of the past, 
or let it go. Yet so many of us would rather imagine that, whatever the burden 
we carry, someone else is doing it to us. So we make up a story about it, full of 
blame and victimhood. And this story tells itself over and over in our mind, 
clouding and o're-shadowing the clear diamond radiance of the Present Moment, 
which is pure love. Love needs no story.
Presence is so much happier than any story about the past. And presence is
always infinitely available. This is the grace of Being.

Two or Three

Jesus said, 'Wherever two or three are gathered together
in my name, there Am I.' He did not say two or three million.

A faint breath may move us in ways a mighty wind cannot.
There is deep power in the intimacy of small groups.
Success is not always measured by numerical increase.

The sat-sang often transforms souls more profoundly when
it is a spontaneous circle, not yet structured into a hierarchy.
Later on, when the beloved community grows to a worldwide
movement, though numbers increase, spiritual potency may 

If you are doing transformational work with small groups,
don't be too impatient to grow in size. Savor the small.

To Settle Into Stillness

Through the gift of meditation, mind begins to settle into stillness.
Then I am no longer stuck in the outworn grooves of anger and
blame. I can sink through a portal of silence into the deeper music
of creation, where an effortless interior harmony reminds me that
the cosmos is woven from a single thread: the vibration of Love.

Let me follow this trembling string of affection, the song of the name,
the mantra, calling me inward. This vibration is the gift of the Master,
leading me back to creation's source, where All Mother spins the
universal web for one purpose: that Love may fall in love with Love
in countless hearts.

Now it is self-evident that laughter and mourning, injustice and
compassion, chaos and community, intimacy and sleepless despair,
the whole bewildering dance of opposites, whirls as one majestic
pattern of divine Beauty, whether it be a galaxy or an atom of dust,
a breath, or the spiral of a human lifetime; and it is all a play in the
theater of Consciousness.

Love has gifted me with the freedom to design my own lessons
moment by moment - though in the instant of instruction I hardly
remember that this experience was orchestrated by my deeper Self,
to teach me precisely what I need to learn at this step of evolution,
so that my heart may release itself from fear, and surrender to more
intimate wholeness.

Finally I come to realize that Love is just another name for an
unconditional embrace of the present moment, just as it arises,
gently or furiously, in the still mirror of my own Self.

Rumi's Field

"Out beyond every idea of right thinking and wrong thinking,
there's a field - will you meet me there?" ~Rumi

Out in Rumi's meadow there's a Walmart. Someone who earns her own way,
but makes a very modest salary, buys soap and clothing there. She feels proud
that she can support herself. No one disdains her for shopping at Walmart.

Out in Rumi's meadow, there's a man and woman who run a small farm
to raise a family. They sell delicious strawberries, string beans, kale and
cucumbers at market prices, in their own roadside farm stand. No one calls
them "capitalists."

Out in Rumi's meadow, there's an elder dying of cancer, who is very poor.
Neighbors all pitch in to care for him, bringing meals, paying doctor's bills,
singing to him in the evening. Each contributes what they can. No one
calls it "socialism."

Out in Rumi's meadow, the children play. They learn as they play. Wherever
someone raises corn or stitches quilts or builds a little house, the children visit
them and learn how to do it. They help. The old one's tell them stories. No one
calls it "school."

Out in Rumi's meadow, there is one human clan. People's bodies are oak and
walnut, rosewood and cream, kinnikkinik, cocoa bean and marigold. All of us
are sunbeams tinted with dust. No one gets called 'white' or 'black.'

Out in Rumi's meadow, the people gather in the evening to praise the stars,
to sing the moon round and full, to thank the sun, to ask the sky for rain.
No one calls it "prayer." They dance. When they are stunned by rays of sunset
through burgundy and magenta clouds, they close their eyes and fall into silence.
They tap creation's root. No one calls it "meditation."

Then, long into the night, they sing songs that the trees taught them, songs that
mushrooms and herbs taught them, because they are good listeners who remember.
But when they sing the praise songs of the forest, no one calls it "religion."

Out in Rumi's meadow, wholeness is like honey. To each according to their need,
from each according to their skill, they give, they share, they work, they love.
No one calls it "God."

What The Frog Taught

No thing is more significant
than any thing else.
The daring leap of a tree frog
from the spigot of your garden hose
to her sanctuary in a pot of begonias
is as important as the birth of a nation
or a typhoon in Bangladesh.

The universe is not only as you see it,
but as the frog sees it.

Your attention, focused on an
infinitesimal event,
magnifies its significance.
Otherwise, it's no more relevant
than a leaf in the wind.

Nothing is more arrogant
than assuming that your concern
should be someone else's.

The highest form of justice
is letting others create themselves
instead of trying to convert them
to your opinion.

Allow everyone to follow
the wondrous river of their own interest.
You don't need to convince anybody.
Just bathe them in the light
of awareness.

A philosopher said, 'Be kind,
for everyone you meet is struggling
in a great battle.'
A carpenter said, 'Judge not,
lest ye be judged.'

Here's a new idea:
Stop trying to change each other.
That would bring the most
radical transformation of all.
A tree frog told me this
early on Sunday morning.

Have you ever walked the labyrinth?
You pass someone, never knowing
who is nearing the center
and who is drifting further away.
This is compassion: never knowing.

You are not a pilgrim in the maze, friend.
You are the labyrinth itself.
There is room in your own lost heart
for all who wander, pathless and strange.

My Spirit Guide

I have always secretly believed that my spirit guide was a panther. But a wolf or an orca whale would do, even a great horned owl.

I finally decided to find out. So I went on a vision quest. I prepared with a sweat lodge and three day fast. My teacher smoked my chakras with sage. Then I hiked to a secret place in the mountains.

For the first few hours, I did just fine. Then a scratching sound in the bottom of my pack distracted me from meditation. I hissed and the mouse skittered away.

Several more hours went by in the all-night vigil. But my deep silence was broken by that same fussy gnawing sound. I shook the mouse out of my pack again.

Dawn came, a kaleidoscope, a silent pastel explosion in the Eastern sky. I felt so blessed, and sensed that my vision was immanent. Certainly it would be an elk, horns racked in a glitter of sunbeams. Or a bear, shining black and huge among the blueberries. But not even a raven circled in the sky. I was visited by nothing.

Wearily I picked up my pack. It felt so light. I must have fallen asleep in the hour before dawn, because that little visitor, the scrawny thief, had opened a gaping hole to finish off all my snacks and trail mix. I had utterly failed. Felt like I was running on empty....

I hiked home and visited my teacher that evening. Embarrassed and belittled, I told the teacher every meaningless detail of my failed quest. Finally I said, "Guess I wasn't worthy of a vision: I have no animal guide."

The teacher smiled with twinkling eyes and said, "Yes you do. In fact, your fuzzy little spirit guide is a wise and mighty being, who taught you the deepest lesson."

Sacred Loss

"Loss is nothing but change, and change 
is nature's delight." ~Marcus Aurelius

We flee from our experience of loss instead of tasting its
essence. We stuff our emptiness with sensation and belief,
creating addiction and ideology.

What if we had the courage to descend into the vacuum
of our loss, and imbibe its bittersweet fullness? At the
center of a galaxy, the black hole consumes and destroys;
yet the same void spawns new stars. In the heart of loss
is a counterforce of creativity.

Loss is divine darkness. Loss is the mother of emanation.
When we surrender to loss, we regenerate.

After all, what isn't lost? Our yesterdays, with everyone
and everything in them, are lost. Even a moment ago is
lost forever. Our stories are the ruins of a Presence that
has moved on. The past is an idol, molded of mere thought,
devoid of sentience.

Yet precisely because of this blessed loss, we are free.
We are pure. Not as thought or belief, but as Awareness.
No matter what our past has been, we awaken in this moment,
untainted, utterly fresh. Loss is the holy ground of possibility.

Engraving, William Blake, 'The Song of Los.'  
Collage, Rashani Réa

Dissolving Now Is The Ancient Way

Whatever I can name I can let go of. When I let go of every name, even the name of God, who remains?

The deepest meditation is not repetition of the divine name. Nor is it concentration on the mantra, nor contemplation of any form that could be named. In deep meditation, mantra dissolves, name and form evaporate, and with the dissolution of nama-rupa, mind also vanishes.

When I surrender all that can be named, there is unfathomable silence, resonant with a thunderous Word of creation. And when my own name is thoroughly lost, I Am.

"Layam vraja," said Rishi Ashtavakra. "Dissolve now!" What remains is self-luminous awareness, without form, boundary, or content.

Meditation practice begins on the level of nama-rupa, name and form. A breath, a mantra, or one's Ishta-devata (chosen form of God) gently floats on waves of awareness. But because meditation does not cling or grasp, the object vanishes into the subject. Then the radiance of pure subjectivity becomes its own object. This little mind dissolves into the sparkling sea of Consciousness. Nameless bliss. 

Some may say, "It sounds like falling asleep." No. Pure Consciousness is beyond waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. The breath of the mantra does not fall into sleep, but into Presence. And nothing is more awake! Presence is alertness itself, needing no-thing to be aware of.

At the dissolution of nama-rupa, awareness Christalizes in itself. All thinking dissolves, and for a brief stunning instant every photon of the body dematerializes in the womb of the Uncreated.

Even a flash of transcendental deep meditation is healing medicine. In that breathless moment is a New Creation, regenerating mind and body together. For at the level of Presence, matter and spirit are waves of the same silence. Subject and object both arise from one energy, which is ananda, bliss.

In his Biblical epistles, St. Paul spoke often of this re-creation in the crystal depths of Christ Consciousness:
"Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." ~Romans 12:2
"All that matters is a new creation." ~Galatians 6:15 
"Any person who is in Christ is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all is made new!" ~2 Corinthians 5:17
Early Christians practiced transcendental deep meditation. As described carefully in the most ancient Christina compendium on prayer, The Philokalia, the devotee began with the Name of God, carried into the heart by means of the breath. But their aim was not "vain repetition" of the Name; their aim was pure silence: "hesychasm." Thus the early Christian meditators of the desert were called "hesychasts," practitioners of silence.

Jesus distilled his method of meditation in the "Lord's prayer." This text is not so much a prayer as a description of the process of meditation. It was given to the disciples when they asked, "Teach us how to pray." They did not ask for a prayer: the Jewish tradition was already full of prayers. They asked HOW to pray. Jesus gave them the way of the mantra, the divine name. "Hallowed be thy name." The divine name was a mantra, a vehicle to dissolve thought and transcend the chatter of the mind, so that awareness could return to the silence at the source of creation, the silence that was there when God said, "Let there be light."

As time went by and Christianity became an extension of the Roman empire, designed to achieve political control over mass populations, Christians lost the practice of meditation. Jesus's inward way was corrupted into mere outward repetition and ritual. Only a few of the Gnostics continued to practice divine silence. Church creeds and stories about Jesus replaced the Master's practical instructions for enlightenment.

It is time for Christians to revive the ancient Way. Let your breath carry the Word of God, the mantra, into your heart. There, in the spacious stillness of the heart, offer everything that can be named to divine silence. This offering will not just re-new your own mind and body. It will regenerate the entire creation.

Jai Guru Dev

Night Itself

Now that the veil of love
has dissolved into night itself,
we won't need to waste the evening
asking, "Are we one or two?"
We can skip this bewildering foreplay
and move straight to the moment before dawn,
piercing the dark with a sudden inhalation,
both you and I the same breath.
The others are sleeping, dreaming of us,
not only the bridesmaids,
but the lonely, the rich and destitute.
When they awaken, they will never know
how we contained them as the sky
contains clouds,
as a lake disturbed by April
contains a thousand rippling moons.
We are two mirrors gazing
with the speed of light,
shattering against each others emptiness.
This is how, in the abyss,
we make wine out of stars.

I Have Decided Not To Grow Up

After more than half a century of thinking about this, I have finally decided not to grow up.

If you are plagued by any question - political, economic, or philosophical - just ask a little kid, and take their answer seriously.

We are at our best when we listen to children, and respond to them with devotion.

"Children's" books and films are far more visionary than those labeled "adult." Most products labeled "adult" are, in fact, addictions and obsessions.

The adults who lead our governments and armies, our banks and corporations, even our academic institutions, are far less trustworthy than five-year-olds. Those who "succeed" in the adult world share one common trait: a chronic lack of real spontaneous joy.

Most of what I believed in as a little child turned out to be true, including the realms of elfin and faery magic, the celestial worlds permeating plant physiology, and the advice of animals. The qualities I most often value in great "art" are intimations of what I once possessed as a child. And most of what I was taught by adults in school and college turned out to be propaganda, driven by a neurotic competition for status. The most important lessons in school, especially kindergarten, were the primal social skills, like sharing, waiting your turn, and basic courtesy.

I have concluded that this planet would be far better off if it were governed by kids, dolphins and elves. Seriously.


Today is independence day.
Tomorrow will also be
independence day.
I wave the flag
of the present moment.
I listen to the robin
and watch the swallow
streak across the twilit sky.
The deer, the stray dog,
the heart-wounded veteran
don't need to hear loud noises
Just the gentle explosion
of peonies in my garden.
Watch the sun set
and greet whoever you meet
with a breath of peace.
Something in your chest
will melt away the borders
of nations.
There is only one earth.

The Great Practice Of No Practice

Our common human practice is to avoid the suffering of the
present by imagining a better future or remembering a better
past. Thus we escape into time, and avoid the only real
opportunity to find freedom from suffering through the
practice of Presence.

The great practice is No Practice At All. The great practice
is to embrace what is, just as it is, with unconditional
acceptance. Another name for this is Love.

To welcome the flower of our pain, just as it arises, without
any attempt to control manipulate the experience, releases
the nectar of ananda, bliss. This is the greatest irony and the
deepest secret.

Unconditional embrace of what is already happening in this
moment is true meditation, and the only liberation.

It doesn’t matter whether you believe this or not. It doesn't
matter whether you decide to take up this practice or not.
You will enter this embrace anyway, without choosing it.
The compassionate process that is Life itself will make this
great practice, this state of absolute surrender, inevitable.
Image by my daughter, Abby, cover photo of my book, 'Wounded Bud.'